Off Topic: Artlessness and Egotism : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


An aside to an imperfect critic (Flint):

The phrases by which you take so much enjoyment in mocking me may be inadequate; my written thoughts may stir up more doubts than they chase away, but you fail to understand that they have meaning; they also reach beyond themselves. It's not just text as Derrida might have contended! But if a phrase like "it suffers from presumption while making some good points in the abstract" is your criticism, then, you fail to know what art is. Your criticism is also degenerate-- it lacks art.

Your criticism never dares to make an impression of overpowering beauty, goodness, or even truth.

When you present my thoughts in this rather unfair way, torn apart like the leaves of an artichoke, your impressions of my thoughts come to resemble a literary lesson used in remedial classes. In these lessons, the stories of Shakespeare's plays (Othello, for example) are retold, the motives of the characters set forth, and the work of art or intellect is therefore made easier for the reader-- a reader whom you imagine can not think for himself. Perhaps, you do not want the reader to think for himself.

You're underhanded snickering suggests as much. Why, then, does my writing invite the snicker snacking of your blunt artlessness? Why do you react in excess of the stimulus? If you are struggling to make something new out of your impressions of my thoughts, your creative vitalities seem to be obstructed as they were for H.L. Mencken. Your sensibility not only alters the object, it makes it grotesque and soul-less. You seem never to transform it, never to overcome it. Are you truly incapable of art?

Again, allow me repeat myself, your criticism never dares to make an impression of overpowering beauty, goodness, or even truth.

It may be rash to speculate, and is perhaps impossible to determine, what is unfulfilled in your poor attempts to cast suspicion on my good will and discourage the reader from considering my thoughts further. But if your criticism wants to be a poor criticism only, it seems hardly an adult satisfaction of a creative and intellectual desire. It merely makes childish snapping sounds. Were Nietzsche alive today and if he were polite enough to settle this question, he might say your criticism is ressentiment.

If you are incapable of knowing art, then, perhaps, you use art as the outlet for a passionate egotism which is presently suppressed by your profession. But if you truly desire art, you might benefit, again, from Aristotle. He had no impure desires to satisfy as Eliot astutely commented. Aristotle looked solely and steadfastly at the object; his art remains a surprising example of high intelligence itself swiftly operating the analysis of sensation to the point of principle and definition.

And if your intelligence shines less brightly than you had hoped, it may be because you lack those general interests that are had by a truly scientific intelligence. Such intelligence is that which is wholly devoted to inquiry. Aristotle had what is called the scientific mind. But since such a mind is rarely found among our modern scientists, Aristotle's mind may better be described as an intelligent mind. Indeed, you mistakenly mock such generalizing power as if it were a bad thing.

So if it is true that your criticism here or elsewhere never dares to make an impression of overpowering beauty, goodness, or even truth, why do you continue to embarass yourself by such artlessness?! And why do I go to such lengths trying to help you improve yourself and your art? Perhaps, I imagine that you can become an artist-- if you truly dared. And if you were to become an artist, I would no longer have to suffer your artlessness. And, yes, Churchhill's lesson on making a point is also amusing to practice.

Artfully yours, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (, September 13, 1999



Sorry. I had thought you were addressing a technical issue, and valued feedback from a technical person. I was making observations on your points (not in any way trying to tear them down) as a technical person.

If instead, as seems much clearer now, you crave praise from poets rather than uninspired analysis by engineers, you're surely in the wrong room. My misinterpretation of your goals was only natural.

I think there is an art to programming, an elegance to strive for. But it lies in making things very concise, clear and concrete. Computers are humbling; they don't care how flowingly your code trips off the tongue. Write bugs, the code blows up. Repeatedly. The computer is unimpressed by metaphors, creative ambiguity, or clever insults.

So you are quite correct, my criticism is not at all intended to "make an impression of overpowering beauty, goodness, or even truth." It's simply intended to fix bugs. I'll leave it to you to climb to dizzying heights on the petals of your flowery prose (at least in your own opinion), since that's not my field. I, meanwhile, aspire to become the best code mechanic I can be. There's a fairly high probability that some of my uninspired wrenching lives in the very computer you're using.

So you are aiming at the wrong target. My job is to take the serial bitstream coming out of your keyboard cable and make it available in useful form to your operating system. Your job is to craft the resulting characters into timeless prose. And if you direct that prose at technical issues, I'll fix the bugs as always.

-- Flint (, September 13, 1999.

Ah Stan, if you have any energy left after this post perhaps you would consider a short answer to my earlier post on the Stitt family. You need not be embarrassed regarding your passionate support of this group, just give us your read on the situation as it stands. You do know what is happening with these folks dont you?

-- Truth (at@the.ready), September 13, 1999.


I hate bashing flint anymore because of his attitude. But you mention art and my heart is there. Artists, specially the inquiring ones (into life itself) have a duty to form a vision of the aspects that contribute to our being "human". True inquiry into these interests require looking into those universal pocesses that can't be measured but are as real as a building, car or refinery. There are folks that understand the obvious and some that understand the less than obvious.

There are some that discount the less than obvious because it can't be measured and quantified. It is hard to define "vision" you seem to have it or you don't. The closest to both feilds would be the physicist looking at quantum mechanics. Staring into the void of infinity they see there is little boundry between consciousness and consequence. The results are repeated over and over yet the meaning of the results are unknown to them.

We are in an era that has unparrelled technological advancement controlled by folks that are still 100 years behind in universal comprehension. Artists have a obligation to drag the past forward and bring the future back. It is the mode of communications that is the challange, yet with the internet we have a tool in which we can communicate and dispence what we "see" for comment from our pears in life. This is a challange that you face Stan, is recognizing the means of the communication that is integral to an artist's meaning.

I think that when artist types communicate with "real world" types that a common understanding must develope. It will be impossible to communicate to a "real world" type such as Flint unless you both have a basis of understanding.

I do get a kick out of the statement "suffering your artlessness"

While artists suffer in awe.

-- Brian (, September 13, 1999.

Without music, life would be a mistake. What does not destroy me, makes me strong. On the moutains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow. The doer alone learneth. Friedrich Nietzsche

-- quoter (, September 13, 1999.

Dear Stan,

I realize your post was addressed to Flint, but I must tell you I will never be discouraged from considering your thoughts further. Your writing touches me. It's intelligent, insightful, interesting, keep doing it.

"Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes wtihout its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage." Sir Winston Churchill.

-- Casey DeFranco (, September 13, 1999.

Why don't you two just admit that you're in love, get a private phone line, and spare us the agony of your never-ending kilobytes.

-- @ (@@@.@), September 13, 1999.

Flint Mentions

"If instead, as seems much clearer now, you crave praise from poets rather than uninspired analysis by engineers, you're surely in the wrong room."

Oh you wouldn't want to touch that with a ten foot pole Flint. While technical analysis maybe your bag, delving into meaning is mine. And Y2K is steeped in meaning and this is a free forum for all issues regarding Y2K and not just code. I think Stan has just touched upon an issue that could build up to something greater. Artists haven't touched Y2K much because it has been a technical - business problem and rarely a human problem. But the closer we get to the rollover the more artists are going to have to respond and the less importance the business - technical aspect will be.

Flint I have never seen a sign stuck on a nail saying that this was a strictly technical forum. If you have a problem with this you have a challange and I am more than up to the task. I think it might be a better idea if some of the real world types take break from the idea that we are going to sucessfully mitigate the Y2K problem and look at the meaning in the failure of systems. As long as we are clear in our views and balance them we can co - exist but to cancel out the vision over the real is a crime as the future is never a defined event.

We are running out of time.

-- Brian (, September 13, 1999.


You're an uninspired engineer with a thousand and one books under your belt (Aristotle and Machiavelli included), you have advanced degrees, and you describe yourself as a political guru, but definitely not a poet or philosopher. You apparently like an obscure english poet's graveyard elegy, however, or you wouldn't have baited me with his verse. You say, Y2K bugs pose no serious risks to life, property, and/or the standards of living (neither here nor elsewhere). And you conclude that the art of government is not honesty (as Jefferson and, later, Roosevelt admonished). For you, the art of government is simple efficiency, and government *must* be amoral to be efficient. Then, you insist that the public is to be lied to in the interest of efficiency. Finally, what appears to me as underhanded attempts to deride me and my thoughts are merely coincidental and unintended consequences of your contempt for me.

Do I understand you correctly?

Furthermore, if this coincidental and now supposedly unintentional snickering of yours lacks art and/or your arguments lack any of the artfulness of scientific intelligence, you think that I should not complain that your responses don't amuse or edify me, because you didn't mean it that way (no matter what you write) and/or you are just a technical person who doesn't care much about how you use words, the effect of your words, and the consequences of your words. However, if you don't like the words that I use and the things that you think that I mean by them, if you don't like the richness of my words due to the effort required to unpack them, or if you don't understand them, then you'll make fixes-- as you see fit. This would be the "efficient" thing to do. Anyway, you think I ought to leave the forum since you don't care much for what I write. Mr. Decker's prose is brilliant, however, because you agree with him.

Do I understand you correctly?

I'm looking for something we can agree on in order that some kind of line of communication might be possible between your world and mine. [grin] It is unfortunate that these agreements have to begin in the mud. But why not! That's where life began.

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (, September 14, 1999.


I have been in awe of your ability to do good (and quickly!) in regard to your preparation archives. Lately, I find myself much impressed by your intellectual mind too. I say, lately, *not* because this appears to me to be a power that has just come to blossom, but I have only recently had the pleasure of reading some of your expanded thoughts. Thank you for inspiring me. And thank you for the many enjoyments and intellectual freedoms I take when reading and reflecting on your balanced words.

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (, September 14, 1999.


Thanks for the warm fuzzy but suggesting I have an "intellectual mind" would not be an accurate statement. A pitbull attitude towards anything I am curious about would be more correct. Unfortunately the desire to have a formal education eluded me, barely making it though grade 12.

But to continue on with the topic at hand, my life has been focused on understanding the "big picture" and Y2K was just made for me. Elements of time, chaos, psychology, survival, "back to nature", spiritual, and dealing with forums on the net have fasinated me. Having been an artist for the better part of my life, views of humanity have been a natural for my mind set. There are intellectuals on this forum and of course on the net, but not to many "naturalist artistic taoist types".

Intellectual would be incorrect, rooted would be much better.

I am just lucky enough to have the skills that may help people during the coming times. To many years as a starving artist tought me much about myself, if I can help others to understand some of the challanges my part will be done.

Never be afriad to meet destiny but always be cautious when dealing with fate. Destiny is what you were ment to do and fate is what you choose to do. There is a differance. The meaning of time is in my heart, and Y2K is time driven. I just understand that change is the universal norm not stability. Just a person in his element.

Back to regular programming, Flint where are you :o)

-- Brian (, September 14, 1999.

"Artists have an obligation to drag the past forward and bring the future back."

If this is a 'Brian original', it's great.

-- Mumsie (, September 14, 1999.


Thank you for your encouragement. Gosh, I feel the pressure is on to be dignified, but I'm knee deep in mud just now. [smile] If the truth be known, I have always sought to praise others (more deserving than I), rather than to be praised for my humble talents and an average speed of mind. I'm a simple person... overly complicated by education and the lessons of life. Some days, I'm almost sure this was a bad thing.

Got soap?

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (, September 14, 1999.

These questions are compiled from interviews with Brad Blanton Ph.D. author of "Radical Honesty: How to Transform you Life by Telling the Truth."

Q: What is lying and why is it stressful?

A: Lying is saying or withholding information in order to manipulate someone's opinion of you. It captures your attention by bringing your focus to the story you're telling, the image you're preserving, and the secret that you're hiding. You're no longer able to focus your attention wherever you want to focus it; you're only able to focus your attention on the lies you're telling and the secret you're keeping. This captured attention creates stress. In Radical Honesty, I attempt to demonstrate that this secrecy, withholding and lying is the primary source of modern human stress, the primary cause of most anxiety and of most depression.

Q: Does everyone lie?

A: Yes. We are always telling some kind of story, building a case for ourselves and trying to put on a best face. We're trying to prove we're good little boys and girls and that we're knowledgeable. Four years ago in a nationwide survey titled "The Day America Told the Truth," 93% of Americans admitted that they lie "regularly and habitually" at work and 35% admitted they have had or were currently having an affair which they were keeping secret from their mates.

Q: Is it possible to be completely honest without hurting a person's feelings?

A: Yes, of course. If you are in an ongoing relationship with any person there will probably be times when you hurt their feelings. Probably the most often used rationalization for lying is "I didn't want to hurt anybody's feelings." I recommend you hurt people's feelings and stay with them past the hurt. I also recommend that you offend people. We can all get over having our feelings hurt and we can get over being offended. These are not permanent conditions; they are feelings that come and go. On the other side of that reaction is a conversation in which your mutual honesty creates an intimacy not possible if you are hiding something for the sake of someone's feelings.

Q: What if I get mad at someone's reaction to my truth telling?

A: Tell them you are mad. Say "I resent you for..." and be specific about what visible, audible part of their reaction you resent. People actually get furious at other people and get over it in 15 or 20 minutes. People can avoid being angry at someone else for 10 or 15 or 20 years, and if they actually got angry at them, they'd probably get over it in half an hour.

Q: Do you feel we have to be honest with ourselves before we can have a relationship with someone else?

A: You can't be "secretly" honest. Being "honest with yourself" is simply not separable from being honest with another. A person who says, "I was honest with myself, but decided not to tell..." is just another miserable liar and will have to suffer the consequences. Sharing honestly, with others present, is the way we can have an authentic relationship with another person.

Q: You require your therapy patients to go and tell the truth about things in their past to parents, siblings or spouses. Why?

A: What I've discovered in 25 years of working with people as a psychotherapist in Washington, DC, is that the primary source of their misery is lying. When I coached them to clean up their act and tell the truth they had a hard time going through it, but right on the other side of that hard time they were no longer depressed, they were no longer anxious-they were happier. They had their relationship worked out or a new job with a promotion. They had a brand new relationship with their spouse or a better relationship with their family. What actually occurs is that when you open up and share by telling the truth it frees you up from the jail of your own mind, which is the source of all human stress anyway. It's also just simply more efficient not to work so hard at all those poses.

Q: In the case of someone who was abused as a child, they are supposed to go back to their parents-and their parents are 70 years old- and tell them they resent the abuse?

A: You're damn right. I often have people bring parents in such cases into my office and tell them in front of me. We have two-hour sessions with the parent and the child. The child begins first by asking the parent to keep quiet and listen. Then the child tells them everything that they specifically remember that they resent and everything that they appreciate. If there's something that they did, like they stole the car at two a.m. when they were 16 and took it out and got a dent in the front fender and brought it back and covered it over and got by with it, I have them tell the truth about it and other things they got by with too. And then I coach the parents to tell the truth to their child about what they resent and what they appreciate. And it works out quite well. It works out for a renewed relationship between the parent and child. As long as there are hidden issues and agendas and feelings, you can never be yourselves with each other..

Q: Why do people have such a hard time being honest about sex?

A: For people to be honest about their sexuality is one of the big hurdles for everyone to get over because sexuality is such a taboo subject. I tell people when I'm attracted to them and they tell me when they are attracted to me to make sure that nothing is going on disacknowledged, that is, an avoidance of reporting feelings which is what we're trying to cure.

Q: Suppose you met someone whom you found unattractive. How do you handle that?

A: If the person's outstandingly ugly, then that's an issue I'm certainly going to bring up to talk about right off. I would say, "I think you look kind of ugly and this is what I think is ugly. I think that big wart on the left side of your face is probably something that puts people off and that you don't have much of a love life, is that true?" Then we'll have a conversation about it. That ugly person probably always felt the negative unexpressed reaction from people. The idea is that they end up not avoiding the damn thing instead of living a life that's dancing on egg shells. They live life out loud and it's a whole lot better life.

Q: What if you want to be honest and you don't even know the truth yourself?

A: What's true, then, is that you don't know. So you say that. Sometimes it might be more honest to say "I don't know" where it's a real opening where you don't know, and you're willing to be with not knowing; that's where creativity comes from. But more often than not, when people say "I just don't know," it's a protest, it's a whine, it's a not wanting to take responsibility. An authentic "I don't know" is a great place to be.

Q: Is there one central point that you would like people to know about Radical Honesty?

A: I think the focus of what I have to say is not so much some moral taboo against lying as it is that I am in favor of people having fun in their lives, and having joyful, playful lives, serving each other. I'm not morally condoning telling the truth or saying that it's immoral to lie. I'm just talking about a pragmatic thing. If you go out and tell each other the truth you'll be happier. You're better nurtured in a world in which you're telling the truth than you are in a world in which you're cowering, hiding and lying.

**** My clients and I have been leaning from each other that the primary requirement for getting beyond adolescence is telling the truth. This book deals with the whole problem of telling the truth: the difficulty in telling the truth, how it hurts one not to tell the truth, how we are all liars, and how it works against our self- interest to lie. It is common for people to ruin their lives and kill themselves through withholding. It is normal for people to stop growing and die from an accumulation of mild stress disorders over time. Being overweight, upright, a heavy smoker, a heavy drinker, a non-exerciser, or some combination thereof, are the direct result of a more central ailment of the mind. These deaths come, from remaining enmeshed in the mind - trapped in lies. Escape from the trap of lies is in learning, and improving through constant practice (just like learning to play golf or tennis), the ability to tell the truth.

We are all the walking wounded. Most of us are still interested in clarity and the truth, but at the same time we are interested in making a case for how our childhood was worse than average and how we're better than everyone else. The conventional way to suffer through life is to build a case for ourselves. That is what you get taught to value in Catholic parochial school and law school as well as all other schools (just not as efficiently as in those first two schools).

But at the same time we are all participants in a project to find out what being alive is. And when we lie or hide or avoid - essential tactics in case building - we don't discover anything new about life and we don't help others to discover anything new. Being interested in this common human project of discovery is an important part of the great conversation in which we humans have been engaged for several thousand years. For my own good, I want to hang out with people who want to find out what it would he like to live in such a way as to leave no unspoken words, no unfinished business; I want to be with people who are hungry for the truth, who want to spend time learning and sharing what they have learned rather than defending their images or reputations. This book is for that group of people that is growing larger every day - those whose thirst for knowledge and willingness to share overrides their defense against embarrassment. I am writing for people who want to grow beyond the adolescence that currently passes for adulthood, for the couples who are fed up with acting and blaming, for individuals interested in integrity or wholeness over moralism and fitting into roles. This book is an antidote to that conventional suffering. I hope it will piss you off and hurt you and inspire you, and break your mind's hold on your spirit.

-- (, September 14, 1999.

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